The RFL and the Super League clubs are facing a crucial week that will determine the format and governance of the Super League competition for the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday the Super League clubs will meet at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium to discuss the demand from a number of clubs that they are able to appoint their own chief executive, with support staff, as well as having representation on the RFL board of directors.
Some of the clubs are also seeking a greater share of the £26 million broadcast rights the game earns annually from the Super League competition.
On Friday the clubs will meet again, this time at St Helens Langtree Park Stadium, to discuss the new league structure proposed by the RFL, which involves having two leagues of twelve clubs at the highest level, which split into three leagues of eight after 23 rounds of competition for a further seven rounds.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood will go into Tuesday’s meeting armed with a paper he circulated the clubs on Friday, setting out the functions currently carried out by the RFL on behalf of the Super League clubs and setting out their cost.
League Express understands that Wood is strongly opposed to any changes in the management structure of Super League, despite the competition’s disappointing commercial performance while run by the RFL, with a new Super League sponsor still not having been announced less than a month before the start of the season.
The Super League clubs themselves are split down the middle, with the ‘rebel’ faction led by Wigan’s Ian Lenagan, and thought to include Huddersfield, Warrington, Hull FC, Hull KR, Catalan Dragons and possibly Salford.
The pro-RFL faction is led by Leeds’ Gary Hetherington, and includes Wakefield, St Helens and Widnes Vikings.
Hetherington believes that the clubs should give their backing to Wood’s ‘two-twelves, three-eights’ plan.
“It’s obvious that straightforward promotion and relegation doesn’t work and a two-up, two-down format in a 14-club league from 2015 has already been rejected,” said Hetherington.
“The proposed idea is a halfway house and gives ambitious Championship clubs the chance to play Super League sides and achieve promotion.”